March 2010


fieldwork - freedom to roam - henny kjellberg
fieldwork - freedom to roam - henny kjellberg

While driving through Mexico last month, there was plenty of opportunity to witness the efforts of people to secure their property.  Gates,  millions of miles of barbed wire, and high walls prevent the crossing of boundaries.  Here are examples from two very different economic situations - one, a barbed wire fence on a barely subsistence farm, and the other a locked hacienda gate.  I'm not sure what anyone will make of the ceramic barbs from Henny's installation that I left (if they are noticed at all).  I do delight though in thinking about the curiosity that might be engendered when someone does eventually stumble upon them!

who owns the ocean?

fieldwork - freedom to roam - henny kjellberg
fieldwork - freedom to roam - henny kjellberg

Mexico's Pacific coast is an incredible string of beaches one after the next - each with their own distinct character.  Some are built up environments luring tourists to condos and hotels that crowd up against each other and line the beach, others are deserted coves occupied by a small fishing boat or two.  The move to develop and then protect private property (particularly luxury hotels and villas) has led to many inaccessible roads that are closed with gates and sometimes protected by armed guards.  Luckily there are still many places on this vast coastline for the public to access the beach and the ocean, but as development continues to happen and beachfront becomes less available, it makes one wonder who owns the seashore - not to mention, the sea.  I flung a barb into the ocean (that's what I am doing in the pictures in case it's not apparent) on one occasion after having some difficulty finding a spot to park for the night.

Field of Fortune - Spring Installation by Cynthia O'Brien

fieldwork - Field of Fortune - Cynthia O'Brien

Well, It seems like winter has come and gone in a blink of an eye this year, and this is the last week 'Winter' officially.  Hence it is also the last week of Henny Kjellberg's installation 'Freedom to Roam'.  If you have not yet seen her fence this is the week to do it! 

Next weekend, fieldwork's Spring 2010 installation will be appear.  On Sunday, March 21 (the Vernal Equinox), Ottawa artist Cynthia O'Brien will be performing the installation of her work Field of Fortune.  She will map out the constellation of Virgo – the virginal hope for the future – with oversized clay fortune cookies.  She’ll then go on to ‘sow’ the field with small edible fortune cookies – all to be left to dissolve with the snow and to ‘seed’ the field with hopes and fortunes for the future.

The concept for O’Brien’s performance and installation was inspired by painter Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Sower’ (1888), and the vernal equinox – the date she installs her work.  In Van Gogh’s painting, a peasant farmer toils in hopes of a future crop that will enable his family to live a meager life.  Imitating the actions of the farmer, O’Brien says she will sow a ‘crop for the spirit’ in the form of fortune cookies.  Over the course of the season, as the cookies dissolve, their fortunes will be revealed.  Field of Fortune is an installation that explores the interaction between humans and nature, and our hopes for the future.

O’Brien is an active member of the Ottawa arts community.  Working primarily with clay, Cynthia has in recent years begun to take on the challenge of using ceramic objects in public installations, with exhibitions in Ottawa’s Chinatown, and a large public commission for the Goulbourn Recreation Center (Ottawa).  This is her first rural public art installation.

O’Brien’s performance will begin at 2pm at the site.  All are welcome to help celebrate the arrival of fieldwork’s spring installation (and Spring itself) by joining us for this performance and the opening to follow.  Soup and beverage will be served to all intrepid visitors.
Directions can be found by clicking on the link 'location' in the menu to the right.  Inquiries can be directed to us at

Hope to see you here!

fieldwork on CBC radio!

Click on the link to CBC Radio's In Town and Out to hear an interview between Cynthia O'Brien and Michael Bhardwaj, Saturday, March 20th) about Cynthia's fieldwork installation 'Field of Fortune'.

Border Wall

fieldwork - freedom to roam - henny kjellberg
fieldwork - freedom to roam - henny kjellberg

Cam took these pictures at a place south of Harlingen, Texas near the Mexican border.   He wrote "Interesting that two of the three friendly Border guards I met who were patrolling this fence  were latinos... I left my fingerprints all over the fence to give them some way of catching me!".  He also suggested that giraffes looking over the top of the fence could help to enhance its appeal....

The point of the border wall is to try to keep Mexicans from crossing illegally into the US.  We met several Mexicans on our travels through Mexico who, despite having been in the US long enough to marry American women and start families, had somehow been caught with expired visas and been deported. For some this means they will be refused entry to the US for up to a decade.   What happens to families?  Sadly, this is not an unusual story.  How is it 'just' that, at the same time, those of us lucky enough to be carrying US and Canadian passports can migrate  back and forth past these barriers at will?